Despite being the cultural center of our nation, New York City is an inherently very eclectic city. One could ramble on for hours about all of the various intricacies of the metropolis: its hustle and bustle nature, the nightlife, its skyscrapers and sprawl, taxis and subways, the glitz and glam of 5th Avenue, all the shows and performers, a vast array of five-star restaurants… there’s literally too much to talk about.
But the thing I love most about the city is its cultural diversity and the influence it has on the city. Millions have immigrated to the Big Apple from all four corners of the globe, and they’ve all managed to influence the city’s aura and feel by bringing with them their traditions and culture. And as you might imagine, a love for football is something that many of them brought in tow.
For that reason, New York has become the nation’s defacto-soccer capital. A quick walk down the streets of Manhattan will tell you as much: in my three days in the city last week, I saw people wearing the shirts of Napoli, Chelsea, Palmeiras, Arsenal, Barcelona, PSG, UNAM Pumas, Borussia Dortmund among others. Make a short hop across the Hudson River into New Jersey, and you’ll find one of the country’s preeminent soccer stadiums in Red Bull Arena. Pick up games can be found at literally every park in the city at nearly any hour. And it’s long been known that MLS wants to place a second team in the city, and they may resurrect the legendary Cosmos to do so.
But one of the other footy features of the city that can’t be overlooked is its vast array of soccer bars. In my hometown of Cincinnati, there are only two or three bars that consider themselves to be of that vein. But if you’re hoping to watch with a crowd, you better hope it’s a major final or an important US National Team match. New York’s soccer pubs, however, are not only light years ahead of those in the Midwest (apologies to Chicagoans: you do have a few good spots in your town), you actually have a choice on where you get to watch.
One of those options, in my humble opinion at least, stands out from the crowd: The Football Factory at Legends. Located directly across West 33rd Street from the Empire State Building, Legends could generally be classified as an Irish Pub, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. After descending a wrought iron and marble staircase into the basement, you find yourself in a football fan’s paradise. Eighteen HD TV’s hang among a vast collection of flags, scarves, jerseys and pictures from the game, meaning you can watch just about any match so long as you can find a satellite feed or internet stream.
And luckily, I was able to arrange a sit down with the man behind The Football Factory, Irishman Jack Keane. Over a steady stream of pints, Jack and I spoke in detail about just how he was able to spawn one of the finest soccer pubs in the land of the free.